I am as close to God as I choose to be. Like any friendship, my relationship with God requires work. Just as a human relationship would die out if ignored, so my relationship with God will only improve with dedicated effort. In this chapter Warren presents several ways I can have a deeper connection with God.
I must choose to be honest with God. God expects honesty. He does not want me to sugar coat the way I feel about life, myself or about Him. Time and again the Bible shows how God’s friends related to Him honestly. They complained to Him, pestered Him and argued with Him. The Psalms show example after example of David baring his soul before God, showing his deepest emotions. God does not view our honesty as audacity; He views it as authenticity.
I must choose to obey God in faith. Generally in our minds obedience and friendship to do not go hand-in-hand, but in our relationship with God we must obey Him. We must obey out of love for Him and because we trust in His love. When we trust Him and do what He says, even if we do not understand it at that time, we deepen our friendship with Him.
I must choose to value God’s values. The closer I grow to God, the more I will value what he values. Above all else God values people. Therefore, if I love God and want to grow closer to Him, I must love people and do all I can to share the good news of Jesus with them.
I must desire friendship with God more than anything else. David, throughout the Psalms, shows his desire to know God. He values his relationship with God above anything else. Similarly, to be God’s friend I must desire Him more than anything the world can offer, be it money, relationships or anything else.
Warren quotes the Bible eighteen times using seven translations and paraphrases. Three of these caught my attention. With all three of them I found the NASB was vastly different than the paraphrase used by Warren. He quotes 2 Corinthians 11:2 as saying “The thing that has me so upset is that I care about you so much – this is the passion of God burning inside me!” The NASB reads, “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” I checked and double-checked and that is the verse Warren quotes. Perhaps the citation is wrong?
The second verse is Phillipians 3:10 where Warren quotes the Amplified Version. It reads, “My determined purpose is that I may know Him – that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and more clearly.” The NASB reads, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Again, there is a vast difference between the two.
Finally, he quotes 1 Timothy 6:21, and again, I double-checked this reference to make sure I got it right. The Living Bible reads, “Some of these people have missed the most important thing in life – they don’t know God.” The NASB reads “which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith.”
Point to Ponder
Today’s point to ponder is “I’m as close to God as I choose to be.” I first came to this realization about two years ago, shortly after I began attending The Sanctuary (my church). My pastor said in a sermon, “you are as spiritual as you want to be.” It is such a simple concept and is so obvious, I was amazed I had not thought of it before. Before that time when I would feel distant from God I would blame my church, my family or anything other than myself. I would even think that God was far from me. The reality, of course, is that my family and my church are not responsible for how close I am to God. I am wholly responsible for my walk with God. Other people may help me in my Christian walk – they can provide support, enouragement and even chastening – but I alone am responsible for maintaining a close relationship with God. When I feel He is distant, I can be assured that I am the one pulling away from Him. He has promised to never leave me nor forsake me, yet I leave and forsake Him all the time. What a loving God I serve that He is patient when I run from Him!
Tomorrow’s topic is Worship That Pleases God